Ask Beaut: Allergic reaction to eye make up

It's Monday again and we are right in the middle of summer. I find summer tends to bring out our daring streak in makeup (it is festival season after all) and with that comes bright colours on lips, eyes or even both.

But not everyone can wear certain colours without reacting. In this week's Ask Beaut we talk about reactions.


Joan asks: 


"Hi Aisling, I hope you're well. I love wearing bright eye shadow colours on my eyes especially when I go to festivals. The problem is that when I do my eyes start to water, and they get itchy and red. It only happens sometimes though so I'm not even sure what is causing it. I hope you will be able to shed some light on the situation for me?" 


Hi Joan,


I'm very well, thank you! You raise a really interesting topic actually. In some eye shadows, especially bright ones, there is a red pigment used. This doesn't mean red eye shadow only - it's used to colour purples, oranges, coppers, even warm toned brows. This pigment is also commonly used in food and cosmetics and it's called carmine.

Carmine actually is carminic acid, and carminic acid is a chemical which may be extracted from cochineal insects (or other scale insects). The extract is then treated to create the red tone that we see in cosmetics like lipsticks and eye shadows and red food dyes. Even though its known as a common allergen it is not considered toxic by the FDA as it is not harmful to people who aren't allergic to it.

My advice to you, Joan, is to have a look at the ingredients list of your eye shadows, and check to see if carmine is present. In my experience that is often the reason people have reactions like you do. On the bright side it doesn't mean you have to stop wearing bright colours to festivals, it just means you have to avoid the red tones ones.

No go, enjoy festival season and dance like no one is watching.


Ais x



Have you ever experiences a makeup allergy? We want to hear about it.

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